Every year in May the Ten Tors Expedition takes place on Dartmoor.
The Ten Tors challenge began in 1960 with just 203 children taking part and has grown to the 2400 that it is today. It is open to teams of 6 teenagers between the ages of 14 – 20 with 400 teams from the South West of England and beyond participating each year……..
In the main event there are 26 routes of ‘Ten Tors’ over a distance of 35, 45 or 55 miles. Teams start at 7AM on the Saturday morning and have to be finished by 5PM on the Sunday afternoon camping on the moor overnight, being self-sufficient for the duration. On the Saturday the ‘Jubilee Challenge’ takes place which is for up to 250 less physically able children. There are 4 Jubilee Challenge routes in varying grades from 7.5 to 15 Miles that allow even wheelchair bound children to take part.
All in all it is a fantastic event put on by the military and backed up by other organizations such as St Johns Ambulance and the Dartmoor Rescue Group (DRG).
I was part of my school team that completed a 35 Mile Ten Tors back in 1980 and still have very fond memories of the event to this day. (That’s me in my trusty yellow jumper. My Mum hated it and knitted me one to replace it but, i resisted!) Throughout the 80‘s after I left school, I went back to help the Team Manager with the training and event for a number of years, as well as a few years on standby as part of the DRG.
One thing I would recommend all participants to do is to spend at least a year as part of the support team for your organisation or school at the event and take the opportunity to support the Jubilee Challenge. Seeing the youngsters overcoming disabilities to complete the event is really quite something. One particular year I watched the presentation and finish in the late afternoon only to hear a call over the tannoy about 2 hours later for people to come to the finish line, as the last competitor was finishing shortly and please give him a big welcome. We duly returned to the finish line and watched the lad in a wheelchair who had to push his way, inches at a time, backwards with the limited mobility he had in his feet. But finish he did showing incredible determination. If that wasn’t enough to raise a lump to the throat as he got presented with his medal with the crowd cheering, the Major making the presentation announced: ‘A little bird tells me that you’ve always wanted to go up in a helicopter. Well see that one over there you’re going up in that!” The lad beamed from ear to ear and with that hankies appeared in the audience as the flood gates opened. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
Having dropped out of direct involvement with Ten Tors in recent years I this year got the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the event as I have joined the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team at Ashburton as a trainee. The team, along with the other 3 sections of the DRG are on standby for the event at various points around the moor. The Ashburton base is at Sittaford Tor with another team at Quintins Man. For the duration of the event team members take shifts to attend to any teenagers who need to drop out for whatever reason in collaboration with the army who man the Tor as a checkpoint on some of the routes.
This year the weather was very good but with a strong wind, and hence only 156 youngsters dropped out for various reasons meaning we were very quiet and used the time to refresh our knowledge on First Aid, rope work and other skills to keep ourselves busy. A welcome change from 2007 when the event was cancelled on the Sunday morning due to adverse weather, meaning 2000 youngsters had to be safely evacuated!
Its great to be involved with the event again and long may it continue. It was wonderful to see so many children outside without their heads buried in games consoles or mobile phones (both banned!). It was also nice to see the kids that we assisted were all polite and engaging children who were a pleasure to help. Restores your faith in the youth of today when they seem to frequently get a bad press caused by the minority.
Roll on next year!
Official website inc photos and results for the Ten Tors Challenge. 2011 and previous years. http://events.exeter.ac.uk/tentors/welcome.htm
Official website inc photos and results for the Jubilee Challenge. 2011 and previous years. http://events.exeter.ac.uk/tentors/jubilee/2011/welcome.htm
Twitter feed for Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team (Ashburton) http://twitter.com/#!/Dartmoor_SRTA
The following 2 links are what I used for source material for this blog, backing up my own memory!
Ten Tors a history http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/ten_tors.htm